By Gerald V. Paul
A virtual who’s who of Toronto movers and shakers gathered at City Hall yesterday to condemn in no uncertain terms the police practice of carding, particularly in regards to young men of colour.
The group, calling itself Concerned Citizens to End Carding, includes former mayors, prominent residents and civic leaders under the theme Let’s stop carding forever.
“Carding is just wrong and it’s time to stop,” said Gorden Cressy, former president of the United Way of Greater Toronto. “Time to do the right thing.”
Late yesterday, a Toronto Police spokesman announced that carding is on hold while the force and police commission review the policy.
Among the protest group members was Desmond Cole who said he experienced carding some 40 times.
Cressy said the group began after a call from David McCamus, a former president of Xerox Canada and one-time president of the United Way. He said McCamus was “very upset” about carding and thought that they could do something together.
Cressy, who served in various countries including Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana, said while the group of 35 prominent leaders co-signed a joint statement in opposition to carding, he has been fielding calls from many more leaders, including corporate executives who expressed their desire to be part of the movement.
“I’ve never been carded, just because I’m white,” Cressy said. “But I have a friend, prominent educator Harold Brathwaite, who was carded eight times and other Black friends who have been carded because they live in predominantly white neighbourhoods. That’s treating people differently.
“We condemn the practice in the strongest possible terms. We’re telling the mayor and the new police chief (Mark Saunders, who is Black) that they got it wrong.”
Among those who addressed the media were Roy McMurtry, former chief justice of Ontario, Dr. Mary Anne Chambers, Barbara Hall, former mayor of Toronto and Prof. Anne Golden of Ryerson University.
McMurtry, and Dr. Alvin Curling were responsible for The Review of the Roots of Youth Violence report, in which they documented “Ontario is at this crossroad in a large measure because the roots of violence involving youth have not been comprehensively understood, articulated or addressed.”
Curling told The Camera, “This is a continuation of our comprehensive study. In our discussions, we heard not only of deteriorating police relations with racialized youth, a lack of opportunity and role models in many parts of society and of the continuing and devastating impacts of racial profiling in many aspects of day-to-day living in this province. And yet, there are fewer public structures in place in Ontario to address this reality than we had in the past.”
Dr. Grace Edward Galabuzi, who worked with a team on root causes and solutions to youth violence in Toronto, documenting Blacks’ and Black youth’s perception of their treatment by police and the justice system, reported in its Visions of a Safer City in 1999 that only 38% of Toronto citizens believe police treat all groups alike.